Multi-genre recording artist Damien Sneed, a Sphinx Medal of Excellence recipient, joins the acclaimed staff of the Houston Grand Opera (HGOco) as Music Director and Composer in Residence. As such, Sneed will work on new commission projects, compose a new work for HGOco, and serve as cover conductor for HGO mainstage productions under Patrick Summers, Artistic and Music Director.
Sneed says he’s thrilled and honored to join the Houston Grand Opera in these roles. “The road to becoming a master of conducting opera is a lifelong process. I’m super excited about all that I will learn and gain as a result of working under the tutelage of Maestro Patrick Summers and the rest of the amazing artistic staff of the Houston Grand Opera.”
The new appointment is the culmination of a lifelong interest in opera. Noting that his parents were serenaded at their Augusta, GA, wedding by none other than international opera diva Jessye Norman, Sneed says his interest and skills were expanded during his years at Howard University, when he accompanied members of the vocal studio of legendary soprano and teacher Carmen Balthrop, star of the Gunther Schuller production of Scott Joplin’s opera Treemonisha, and studied with well-known operatic accompanist and Metropolitan Opera vocal coach Sylvia Olden Lee. “Opera has always been one of my favorite art forms as far as I can remember,” says Sneed. “After college, I began to intentionally plan out the steps needed to gain the necessary experience to become a conductor in opera.”
Damien Sneed is a pianist, organist, conductor, composer, producer, arranger, vocal coach, and arts educator whose work spans multiple genres. He has worked with classical, jazz, pop and R&B legends including the late Aretha Franklin, Wynton Marsalis, Jessye Norman, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Ashford & Simpson, Lawrence Brownlee and many others. A graduate of John S. Davidson Fine Arts School in his hometown of Augusta, Ga., he earned a Bachelor of Music – Piano Performance from Howard University and a Master of Music in Music Technology: Scoring for Film and Multimedia from New York University. Sneed will also graduate with his doctorate in Orchestral Conducting from USC in fall 2018. He is the founder and artistic director of the international vocal ensemble Chorale Le Chateau, and the founder of LeChateau Earl Records.